Pike keen to Stoke up momentum

Rory Williams will be keen to get off the mark against Basingstoke tonight
Rory Williams will be keen to get off the mark against Basingstoke tonight
Ryan Woodford has making 200 appearances for the Hawks. Picture: Keith Woodland

Woodford challenged to make 400 Hawks appearances

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Alex Pike is backing his Gosport Borough side to bounce back from their opening day defeat in the Conference South as they prepare for a Hampshire derby at Basingstoke Town tonight (7.45pm).

Borough kicked-off their debut season in the sixth tier of English football with a 1-0 home defeat by Dover Athletic in front of a bumper Privett Park crowd.

Pike was disappointed not to get anything out of the historic game – but is determined to get his troops off the mark at the Camrose Ground.

He knows, however, it won’t be easy against hosts who began their campaign with a 2-1 win at fellow newcomers Concord Rangers.

‘After Saturday, it is important now that we go to Basingstoke and get something,’ said Pike.

‘I am not going to panic but others might if we don’t get any sort of result.

‘We had a poor opening to last season but showed our battling qualities to end up being promoted.

‘It was frustrating against Dover because I felt we could and maybe should have got something from the game.

‘In the end, we paid the price for a sloppy bit of defending and our failure to threaten their goal enough.

‘That is something that we will need to address at Basingstoke.

‘We will have to concentrate for the whole 90 minutes and work the goalkeeper a lot more.’

Pike was delighted with the crowd of nearly 600 who turned up to watch Borough’s opening game in their new surroundings.

He was also pleased with the battling qualities displayed by his team against a side who were play-off finalists last season.

The manager isn’t going to let the Dover defeat dent his belief that Borough can do more than just survive at their new level, though.

Many bookmakers have marked Borough out as favourites to go straight back down into the Southern League but Pike insists it’s is early days to be making that sort of judgement.

‘I always say look at the situation after 10 games because then you have a more realistic picture of how things are,’ said Pike.

‘We have the quality in our squad to do well and I regard the Dover defeat as a minor setback.’

It was Borough’s team spirit that got them through some difficult spells last season and earned them their success.

And Gosport have added some experienced heads to their squad who Pike believes will be important as the season progresses.

‘I still want my players to enjoy their football because that is the way you get the best out of them,’ said Pike.

‘We are a close-knit group with a good team spirit.

‘This togetherness is crucial to us as a club.’

Borough have a doubt over experienced defender Brett Poate for the trip to Basingstoke.

He limped out of the action against Dover after 72 minutes with a hamstring problem.

Apart from the former Hawks left-back, Pike has a full squad to choose from.

Gosport Borough: Ashmore, Hinshelwood, Brown, Molyneaux, Pearce, Igoe, Smith, Williams, Bennett, Gosney, Dunford, Forbes, Wooden, King, Barfoot, Poate.